Chapter 139: A New Possibility

For an entire week, Jiang Zhengkai and A-Jiao put on a play of life-and-death staged inside the alley every night. Unfortunately, due to a lack of new homicide cases, all was quiet and calm in the alley. With the passage of time, Jiang Zhengkai and A-Jiao began seeing their nightly work in the alley as a part of their routine. In the future, will they be required to spend a stretch of their time here every night?

Now, with the exception of Jiang Zhengkai and A-Jiao, all the other police officers previously stationed at the alley had been recalled to their original units. Since the murderer was someone with a plan and target, there was no point for these police officers to continue standing guard.

In Yao Tianyu's office, Jiang Zhengkai gave Yao Tianyu a run-through of the latest developments. After listening to Jiang Zhengkai's report, Yao Tianyu knitted his eyebrows. He knew that this serial murder case was different from all the other ones. Even if there were no new incidents, it did not mean that the case was over. Instead, it meant that the case was still continuing to covertly develop. Until the murderer was seized, this case would always be ongoing. No one knew when the murderer would suddenly return in full swing and commit more crimes.

"How is Miss Ren feeling now?" Yao Tianyu, with a serious look on his face, asked Jiang Zhengkai, who was sitting across from his desk. "Has she been exhausted lately?"

"She’s alright. Ziyuan is on break right now, so she’s normally resting at home during the day. Emotionally, she’s fine. She’s no longer dreading the evening as much as before.”

“Oh?” Yao Tianyu nodded, "Stay alert and protect her! Don't let her perish with you. Also, tell those monitoring not to assume that the case is over. The case might pick up again at any point. Also, did the two cases tangentially related to A-Xiu yield any more clues for this major one?"

"No!” Jiang Zhengkai shook his head. "I have assigned special personnel to follow through on the two cases. At present, although they have the same modus operandi, similar locations, and even similar victims, there doesn’t seem to be any connection between the deceased and A-Xiu.”

"It looks like we won't know why until we find the killer." Pondering the situation, Yao Tianyu tapped the table lightly with his fingers.

"Oh! But... but, I did find one clue about the investigation." Jiang Zhengkai didn't want to disclose this, but he couldn't bear to see Yao Tianyu's distressed face. “Reportedly, the two deceased did not treat the first case’s victim, A-Mei, well. They all bullied A-Mei before she died."

"So what you’re saying is…" Yao Tanyu fixed his gaze onto Jiang Zhengkai. 

"Perhaps the murderer felt guilty about killing A-Mei..." Jiang Zhengkai momentarily paused before giving his conjectures. "Or maybe A-Mei was the accomplice of the murderer and he did not want to kill A-Mei. Anyhow, neither of these assumptions can be verified at present.”

"That’s ok. Regardless if you’re right or wrong, it's better than nothing! " After Yao Tianyu said this, he sat up straight again. "Stay safe! Don't worry. I believe that you can crack this case! Just make sure to be careful!"

"Yes, Commissioner Yao!" Jiang Zhengkai stood up and saluted.

Jiang Zhengkai left the city bureau and returned to his office. He was still mulling over his conversation with Yao Tianyu. A-Jiao had been the one who had inadvertently brought up that the two murders in the alley may have had something to do with A-Mei. Originally, he had no intentions of mentioning it. After all, A-Mei was the first to be killed. However, he was now thinking about the case from an angle he had never considered before. 

Maybe A-Mei was not the murderer’s accomplice. Maybe the murderer killed A-Mei by mistake. If that’s the case, then the two cases would have no connections with A-Xiu. Could the murderer’s motives actually be to seek compensation for A-Mei's death? 

"Inspector Jiang, while you were away just now, Mu Mingyuan stopped by. He said that he’s going to leave for a business trip tomorrow, and that he wanted you to call Sister-in-law to come to the office in advance." Lu Xiaoqiang reported after knocking on the door and coming inside.

"Oh! Alright!" Jiang Zhengkai agreed and then motioned for Lu Xiaoqiang to sit down. "Xiaoqiang, take a seat! I have something to ask you."

“Sure. Inspector Jiang, please go ahead.” As he spoke, Lu Xiaoqiang sat down across from Jiang Zhengkai's desk.

"It's about your younger sister, Lu Xiaomei." Jiang Zhengkai looked at Lu Xiaoqiang apologetically as he brought up the subject.

"Oh! You can ask me anything," Lu Xiaoqiang appeared surprised, then frankly said, "I’ll answer everything I can."

"Hey, no need to be so stiff." When Jiang Zhengkai saw Lu Xiaoqiang's solemn and rigid expression, he waved his hand and told Lu Xiaoqiang to relax. "In Xiaomei’s letters, did she mention anyone or anything else apart from A-Jiao?”

"No!” Lu Xiaoqiang shook his head. "My sister’s letters were usually very straightforward. She usually just talked about how great her job was, her colleagues treating her well, and her health. She just wanted us to feel at ease. We actually thought it was odd when she sent a letter with a photo of her with Sister-in-law home. In the past, we've asked her about her work, but she just brushed it off as being fine and never gave us specific details."

"What did she say about A-Jiao?" Jiang Zhengkai continued to probe.

"I don't remember it clearly. Anyway, it was the typical stuff you’d say during Chinese New Year. All good stuff. But we felt reassured knowing that Xiaomei had a very good friend with her. In the picture, she looked very happy." 

"Did Xiaomei have a boyfriend or a friend of the opposite sex here?" Jiang Zhengkai already knew perfectly well what answer he was going to receive, but he still persisted in asking.

"No!" Lu Xiaoqiang shrugged his shoulders helplessly. "Or did she? If she did, she never mentioned it to my family, but Sister-in-law might know?”

"All right! I’ll let you go." Jiang Zhengkai nodded. Looks like they’ll need to ask A-Jiao if they want to get to the bottom of this.

"Ok, Inspector Jiang." Lu Xiaoqiang agreed as he stood up. "By the way, Inspector Jiang. H- how did you come up with these questions today?” Lu Xiaoqiang asked with some hesitation.

"Xiaoqiang, do you think…" Jiang Zhengkai gestured with his hand a few times, as if he was trying to pick out the correct words. "…the murderer… knows Xiaomei? There are two cases that have nothing to do with A-Xiu, but do have some connection to Xiaomei.”

“Xiaomei knew the murderer?" Lu Xiaoqiang stood there, stunned. "But she died in the first case. How could that be possible?" Lu Xiaoqiang stared at Jiang Zhengkai. "If Xiaomei knew the murderer, then could there have been something between them? Could it be that her death… her death was an accident? That the murderer didn't actually want to kill her? That the two deceased in the cases after had grudges with Xiaomei and the murderer killed them just to make up for his mistake?”

"Yes! But that's only a hypothesis." Jiang Zhengkai sat there and nodded. "We haven't investigated this area before. But right now, it seems like… to be honest, I don’t think that Xiaomei and the murderer are connected. But, Xiaoqiang, what are your thoughts?”

"Inspector Jiang, I…” Lu Xiaoqiang's expression grew convoluted as his body sank back into the chair. After a long time, he choked out with some difficulty, "Inspector Jiang, I think that it's possible."

"All right! You may go," Jiang Zhengkai said again as he waved Lu Xiaoqiang away. "I'll think it over. Oh, by the way, go look for Liu Kun and Du Yuting. Those two have some information related to Xiaomei. Go take a look. If any further investigation is needed, I hope that you’ll handle it."

"Thank you, Inspector Jiang!" Lu Xiaoqiang looked at Jiang Zhengkai with gratitude and slowly stood up. Based on the police’s regulations, he knew that he would be violating the rules if he directly investigated Lu Xiaomei’s case. But since this was the only way he could save Xiaomei’s and his face, he was naturally grateful to Jiang Zhengkai for giving him this option. Jiang Zhengkai allowed this because he believed that Lu Xiaoqiang could make a clear distinction between his work and personal life.

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